Something New Under the Son

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Something New under the Son
Studio album by Larry Norman
Released 1981
Recorded 1977
Length 38 minutes
Label Solid Rock Records
Producer Larry Norman
Larry Norman chronology
Roll Away The Stone (And Listen To The Rock)
Something New Under the Son
The Story Of The Tune

Something New Under The Son is an album recorded by Larry Norman in 1977 and released in 1981. It was originally intended to be a three-sided album, however Larry's record company felt it was too negative and the project remained unreleased for four years.[1]


In 1977 Norman recorded Something New under the Son a blues-rock concept album that some regard as his tour de force,[2] and as "one of the roughest, bluesiest, and best rock and roll albums of his career or the whole industry",[3] that took its title from "an ironic inversion of a phrase in Ecclesiastes",[4] namely: "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9b). While Norman explicitly denied this album was autobiographical in the accompanying lyric songbook,[5] many years later some critics challenged this claim, arguing "Norman was struggling through his own divorce and identity crisis at the time".[6] In 1999 Norman responded by arguing that when he completed the album, he was happily married and that several of the songs were written before he had met his wife.[7] Norman indicated that the songs chronicled "Pilgrim's" journey into faith.[8] On this album Norman deliberately "took lots of musical & lyrical parts from old blues songs and from Bob Dylan songs".[9] Norman acknowledged a deliberate similarity between his Something New Under the Son and Bob Dylan's 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home,[10][11] including a deliberate endeavor to replicate Bringing It All Back Home's iconic album cover on the inner sleeve of the original Something New Under the Son LP album.[9][12] Jesus Music historian David Di Sabatino described the album as "Musically reminiscent of The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street (1972) .... The album's artwork is an excellent attempt to parallel Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home (1966). "Nightmare #97" makes excellent use of Stagger Lee intro (cf. "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream").[13] With the song "Let That Tape Keep Rolling"[14] Norman pays homage to Mick Jagger[15] and Van Morrison.[6] Norman explained the philosophy behind this album:

The album is called Something New Under the Son. Well my music is not new. "There's nothing new under the sun", Solomon said and my album is not new. I'm not trying to say that my album is new under the sun but I'm trying to say that we are something new under the Son. When we're born again we're a new creature and old things pass away, so on my album I wanted to put some remnants from the past. There are little bits and pieces in the music that some people might recognise have been on other albums before. Just a word there, a little sentence or some musical riff or lick and a lot of people have figured out what they are and when you listen to it you say "wait a minute, I think I've heard that before!" Yes, you have, because there's nothing new under the sun - except us. We are new in Christ.[10]

Norman had intended to release this as a double album with his 1971 song "The Tune" on the second album (and a blank fourth side or a side with a lengthy version of "Watch What You're Doing").[9] However, Word rejected Norman's wishes as they believed two separate albums would be more profitable,[16] censored some of the songs, and delayed the album's release until 1981.[17] A full length (almost 12 minute) version of "The Tune" was recorded in Hollywood in 1977, but not released until 1983 on the album The Story of the Tune, which is called "the continuation of Something New Under The Son on the back cover".[18]

The CD reissue restores a censored verse to "Watch What You're Doing" and omits a brief intro from "Leaving The Past Behind."

Norman is credited in the liner notes as having written all of the songs on the album, but that is not entirely accurate. "Watch What You're Doing" is actually a variation of "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas," a blues-jazz song that was first recorded in late 1928 or early 1929 by James "Stump" Johnson. The song had been popular in whorehouses for some time before Johnson's recording of it, and it's true origins are unknown.

Fourteen-Album Cycle[edit]

Norman claimed in the original liner notes that this album was number eight in a series of fourteen albums, two series of seven each based on the days of creation. This reckoning counts the I Love You album by People as the first in the sequence and which he said was supposed to be titled, We Need a Whole Lot More Jesus and Lot Less Rock and Roll, but changed by the record company. The other members of People deny this.[19] Street Level and Bootleg, self-produced and self-released albums, would have been the third and fourth albums in this sequence. However, Norman's comments about Bootleg make it seem that it was just a contract-fulfilling throwaway, rather than something planned as part of a series.[20] Further, Norman claimed that even the number of words in the song titles had meaning which is hard to maintain when realizing that he issued two editions of Street Level with different songs on side 2. Since the first public mention of a fourteen-album series was in the liner notes for this album, not released until 1981, it has caused some to suggest that the fourteen album cycle was revisionist.


Original LP release[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Hard Luck Bad News"
  2. "Feeling So Bad"
  3. "I Feel Like Dying"
  4. "Born To Be Unlucky"
  5. "Watch What You're Doing"

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Leaving The Past Behind"
  2. "Put Your Life Into His Hands"
  3. "Larry Norman's 97th Nightmare"
  4. "Let That Tape Keep Rolling"

Bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Twelve Good Men"
  2. "It's Only Today That Counts"
  3. "Watch What You're Doing" (8:36 version - previously unreleased)

These bonus tracks appear on the 2003 CD re-issue


  • Larry Norman - vocals, guitars, percussion, piano, harmonica, saxophone
  • Jon Linn - guitars and flaming fingers
  • Alex MacDougall - drums
  • Peter Johnson - drums
  • Dave Coy - bass
  • Billy Batstone - bass
  • Tim Jaquette - bass
  • Randy Stonehill and Tom Howard - loose strings and lost paperwork

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liner notes to the 2003 CD release.
  2. ^ Bryan Moore, "LARRY NORMAN'S COMPLEAT DISCOGRAPHY (almost) V.3.8", (24 September 1999),
  3. ^ John J. Thompson, Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll (ECW Press, 2000):50-51.
  4. ^ "Something New Under the Son (1981):,
  5. ^ "Extracts from the Lyric Book",
  6. ^ a b David Di Sabatino, "Larry Norman",
  7. ^ As evidenced by Norman and Pamela being together until 1978, including the 1977 seven-month world tour, and not divorced until 1980. Further, Norman claimed that copyright records would show that "Feeling So Bad" was written in 1969, and "I Feel Like Dying" was written in 1976. See Larry Norman to David Sabatino (sic), (13 April 1999), [1][dead link] In an internet posting on 16 March 1999, Norman indicated "I wrote "Hard Luck Bad News Blues," and "Born To Be Unlucky," and (sic) other songs when I was 13, 14, and 15". See Larry Norman, "The Hisssssssssstory of Responsible Journalism!", (16 March 1999):1,[dead link]
  8. ^ Larry Norman to David Sabatino (sic), (13 April 1999), [2][dead link]. For an explanation of the songs, see "Extracts from the Lyric Book",
  9. ^ a b c Robert Termorshuizen, "Something New Under The Son (1981)",
  10. ^ a b "Larry Norman Interview re Bob Dylan - 1982", Shaker (1982),
  11. ^ In the linear notes, Norman writes: "with love through a rough mix to zimmy". See "SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SON: LINEAR NOTES", Dylan's real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman.
  12. ^ The cover of SNUTS features Norman outside of the Esquire Record & Afro Store, which apparently was located at Church Street, Norfolk, Virginia. See "Alma C. Williams", (15 June 2000),
  13. ^ Compare lyrics at "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream", with "NIGHTMARE #97",
  14. ^ "Let the Tape Keep Rolling." does contain autobiographical references to the recording of both Something New Under the Son, and Upon This Rock. See "LET THAT TAPE KEEP ROLLING (C:12/L:5)",; and See Bryan Moore, "LARRY NORMAN'S COMPLEAT DISCOGRAPHY (almost) V.3.8", (24 September 1999),
  15. ^ There is a dedication to "lip jagged" in the linear notes. See "SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SON: LINEAR NOTES",
  16. ^ "Larry Norman Down Under But Not Out", On Being (1985/1986):7.
  17. ^ "Larry Norman (Part 1)", This is taken from A Moment In Time and Footprints In The Sand CD booklets; Robert Termorshuizen, "Something New Under The Son (1981)",
  18. ^ Robert Termorshuizen, "The Story Of The Tune (1983)", Among those who sung harmonies on "The Tune" were Norman's future second wife (Sarah Finch); his brother Charly; and his parents, Joe and Marge Norman. See [3] See also
  19. ^ See their interviews in Fallen Angel,
  20. ^ "Many songs which ended up being released on Bootleg, ... weren't really finished but I had to release the album immediately so it wouldn't violate the terms of my MGM contract which was soon going to be in effect. ... I just didn't have time to finish it. ... I didn't have the budget to make it a real album, I just used songs laying around to fill it up, which I regretted". Larry Norman, liner notes, The Cottage Tapes - Book One (1999):9.